Archive for May 2014

Let’s Pretend   1 comment

IMG_0875-bw-uploadI grew up in those wonderful, interesting days of radio. Back in a time when we all sat around the magical box that brought us all the entertainment and news, so important to our lives. My mother was very selective in what movies I was allowed to see and so I was not exposed to very many films while growing up so the radio and reading became my main form of entertainment. Mother and my grandmother would come into the living room almost every evening to listen to their favorite programs. I remember them listening to so such things as “Baby Snooks,” “One Man’s Family,” “Lum and Abner,” “Amos ‘n’ Andy,” “Fibber McGee & Molly,” “Edger Bergen,” “The Aldrich Family” “The Jack Benny Program” and other such shows. I got to listen to “Superman,” “The Lone Ranger,” “Sky King.” “The Cisco Kid” and others in the same venue. No way would they allow “The Inner Sanctum,” “I Love a Mystery,” “Suspense” or “Boston Blackie” in the program schedule. Granddad’s favorites were the local news programs in the morning, afternoon and evening, along with”Lowell Thomas” and “Gabriel Heater” during the war years. And of course Detroit Tiger’s baseball!

We didn’t have a television set, granddad thought they were a waste of time. I did get to go to the neighbors now and then to watch Sherri Lewis and Lamb Chop and the Gillette’s Friday Night Fights. And once or twice I saw Superman on TV and that brings me to the point I want to make – The difference between “Lets Pretend” and “Lets Watch!”

Back in those radio days I laid on the floor, looking at the radio and imagining the people, the scenes, the action and everything I heard was translated into my version of reality by my mind. The image of my heroes was what I imagined them to be. I remember how disappointed I was the first time I saw “Superman” on TV. This was not the “Superman” I followed on the radio. This character was a poor imitation of “The Man of Steel!” And I think that is the reason that I look for something beyond the obvious in many of my photographs.

The attached image is an example of what I mean. I was walking back from getting the mail when I noticed this piece of wood leaning against one of our neighbor’s trees. The more I looked at it the more I saw some kind of animal, maybe blind, talking to the tree. Maybe seeking consolation after being attacked by another creature. In any case, to me, this piece of wood was just as alive as the dog that was walking with me.

I am sure I would have missed this image if I had been raised having everything “shown” to me, never having to use my mind to experience the programs that I heard. Maybe I’m just being an old guy, living in the past, not embracing reality, but I don’t mind. I like it!

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Posted May 27, 2014 by hwilliam in Photography

When the Eggs Break – Make Scrambled!   Leave a comment

IMG_0958-Edit-2-watercolor-uploadDewitt Jones is a photographer, motivational speaker, Outdoor Photographer magazine columnist and an all around interesting guy with a great take on photography. Even though he is a former National Geographic photographer who photographed with his “Big Boy” cameras for years, he is now also creating expressive, “makes-you want-to-stop-and-look” photos with his I Phone camera. He is also not afraid to add various effects to enhance those photos from the about “ten billion” photo apps that are available for that phone. In addition he believes that we should “Celebrate What’s Right With The World” with our thoughts and images. He is one of the most “positive” people I “almost” know!

Yesterday I set up both the Nikon and Canon (at various times) on the tripod to shoot the hummingbirds at the feeder over the kitchen window. I have a wireless trigger for the old D60 Nikon and a wired remote for the T3 Canon, both of which I can trigger from inside the house. I wanted to see what I could get without the on-camera flash and so I ended up with some really not sharp shots which back in the old days of film would be trashed the minute I saw them. But……What do I think Dewitt would do with them?

DSC_3778-Edit-Edit-2-color pencil-uploadOne of the advantages of a painter is that he or she is not obligated to make every painting bold and sharp and realistic. They have the option to create whatever they feel without fear of being told “That’s not a ‘Real’ painting!” So I decided that if they have the freedom to do that, why not me!

I have a trial copy of Topaz Simplify 4 so I decided to see just what I could do with some of the preset effects. After trying a number of them I settled on the “Color Pencil” preset. And, for me, that works.

So, instead of the wastebasket (or in this case the ‘delete’ key) instead of throwing the broken eggs into the compost pile I can serve them scrambled and nobody needs to know they started out as accidentally broken eggs!

Posted May 20, 2014 by hwilliam in Photography

Memories of Bygone Days   1 comment

Bill2Sitting at the computer, looking out the window above the monitor at the birds flying to the feeders, the sunlight making shadow images in the woods, drinking coffee and thinking about bygone days. Not wistful, not wanting to go back, just enjoying memories as they come and go, playing tag in my mind. These memories are some of the good ones. The Marshall Music Days.

In 1966 I went to work at Marshall Music Company in Lansing Michigan. I started out as a counter sales person selling everything from clarinet reeds to Gibson guitars. However it wasn’t all that long before the owner (W.W. (Bill) Marshall) noticed that more and more of the young “garage band” members were coming to me for their “rock and roll” merchandise and in a matter of time he put in a separate Guitar and Amp Department to service this growing group of buyers. Maybe because I was the youngest (27) member of the sales team I was made manager of the department.

Those were the years… I loved working with these kids. They were so full of energy, drive and desire. And they were talented. Most of them were self-taught on their instrument of choice. I hired some kids just out of high school (and some still in) to help work the department. Jim Hosley (Plain Brown Wrapper), George Hurrell (Paris Bakery) and Gary Manthei (Paris Bakery) were some of my “main men”. And they always managed to keep me on my toes! (Love the gleam in George’s eye as he looks ready to break that gourd over my head!)

Sometimes during those wonderful years we were so busy on Saturdays we couldn’t get out to lunch. Mr Marshall would go next door to the “greasy spoon” and bring us back something to munch on in between customers. One Saturday Mrs. Marshall stood on the mezzanine and counted over 100 kids on the sales floor! We loved it, the kids loved it and some of them 40+ years later still remember those days.

One of the groups that used to frequent the store was Tonto and the Renegades composed of Gary Richey, Tom Kirby, Bill Ford and Terry Slocum from the Grand Ledge. In 2012 they were inducted into the Michigan Rock and Roll Legends online Hall of Fame. In addition, three of their recordings have been voted Legendary Michigan Songs: “Little Boy Blue” in 2008, along with “Anytime You Want Some Lovin’” and “No Easy Way Out” in 2012. Tom and Terry, who I had become “friends” with on Facebook, invited Shirlee and I to attend the induction ceremony in Grand Ledge and also asked me to say a few words. I felt and still feel, honored to have been a part of that ceremony. In addition they also remembered Marshall Music and myself in their band history at the Michigan Rock and Roll Legends site.

So, like Bob Hope, I say thanks for the memories guys. Not only Tonto and The Renegades, but all the others who I have reconnected with after all these years who still remember those days. It was a great time and you were all great kids. I feel grateful and yet humble to have had a part in your lives.

Posted May 17, 2014 by hwilliam in Photography

Swamp Walk of the Mind   Leave a comment

IMG_0835-Edit-toned-upload
“To love a swamp, however, is to love what is muted and marginal, what exists in the shadows, what shoulders its way out of mud and scurries along the damp edges of what is most commonly praised. And sometimes its invisibility is a blessing. Swamps and bogs are places of transition and wild growth, breeding grounds, experimental labs where organisms and ideas have the luxury of being out of the spotlight, where the imagination can mutate and mate, send tendrils into and out of the water.”
― Barbara Hurd, Stirring the Mud: On Swamps, Bogs, and Human Imagination

Not too far behind the house is a place I call Hidden Pond. When I first started my woods walks it was in May, not long after the rains of April had cleansed the snow from the ground, I discovered this small swamp hidden by the banks that surrounded it. At the time I thought it was a small pond that would retain water year around. As the spring morphed into summer and summer into fall I saw that it was a small swamp. From being covered with water to being almost dry it was a place that nature had carved out for its own purpose. It is a little small to provide much refuge for the deer but maybe the racoon and possum, the small red fox or the feral cats can find refuge from their natural predators. Whatever the reason, it is there, it exists.

It reminds me of my mind. As I grow it changes. Some of the things that were so important to me 50. 40 or even 10 years ago have lost their substance, much like the swamp loses its water during the year. There are dreams that have crashed like the fallen trees that lie half-submerged in the water and the mud. But…

But… I love that word because it means something is coming that may change what has been said, done or dreamed. But…

But like the swamp my mind still lives and breathes, dreams and hopes. In the swamp the fallen tree provides a place for small animals to hide. In the swamp the dense growth of bushes provides buds and leaves for the deer to feed on. The swamp is alive, it breathes it is there for a purpose. It provides a place of refuge, of peace and of quiet. It is a place where those that need it can find a place to just get away from whatever bothers them and relax, if only for a short time.

My mind needs the refuge of the swamp as much as it needs the freedom of the meadow. It needs a place to put everything on hold and relax, slow down, meditate.

Do I want to spend a lot of time in that swamp? Of course not. Sometimes it’s like medicine, it has a unpleasant taste or smell, but when I need it – I need it. The time I spend in the swamp gives me back my joy and purpose. Then there are things to do, places to see, people to meet, sunlight to feel, life to enjoy!

But…every now and then, like nature, I need the swamp.

Posted May 5, 2014 by hwilliam in Photography

Foggy Days…   1 comment

P1120507-3rdbw-upload“It wasn’t the fog I minded, Cathleen. I really love fog. […] It hides you from the world and the world from you. You feel that everything has changed, and nothing is what it seemed to be. No one can find or touch you any more.”
― Eugene O’Neill, Long Day’s Journey Into Night

“In nature, everything has a job. The job of the fog is to beautify further the existing beauties!”
― Mehmet Murat ildan

The fog comes
on little cat feet.
It sits looking
over harbor and city
on silent haunches
and then moves on.
Carl Sandburg, Chicago Poems (1916) “Fog”
US biographer & poet (1878 – 1967)

And while there is no harbor and city here in Acker woods there is, at times, a silent fog that caresses the trees and all they hide. A fog that mutes the sharpness of reality while amplifying the sound of silence. A fog that soothes the soul and shelters it from the cares and worries of the day. The fog brings peace. The fog gives solace. The fog gives comfort, if only for the brief moment that it floats in splendor before it slowly disappears as the reality of the day intrudes on its silent magic. But for a moment, my moment, I am held in awe, caressed by its comfort, touched by its love.

Foggy days… may they always touch my soul.

Posted May 2, 2014 by hwilliam in Photography